Olkhon (Baikal): The Guided Tour to the North of the Island
Русская версия The north and south of the Olkhon island are completely different in nature and landscape and the tourists are recommended to see both sides. We went to the north of Olkhon on the organized tour with Sasha: we were also staying in his place.
The guided tours
are one of the easiest way to see Olkhon (about 600-1000 rubles a day, including lunch), taking into account the lack of public transport on the island. You may also see the island on foot or by bicycle, but for that you need to be more prepared than we did. It was great that we went on a tour with Sasha (+79086685611, firstname.lastname@example.org), as he was very polite and also very good in driving. At one of the tourist stops, we watched other drivers smoking and became even more happy about our choice.
We started for the tour at 10 AM, and the first stop was in half an hour. From this point, the view opened to islands Lvenok (Lion), Krokodil (Crocodile) and Belenkij (White), capes Bodun and Kharantsy. On the other shore, you may also see “the face of Baikal” and the image of a man and a woman, but we did not see them because of the haze.
The park entrance fee is 90 rubles a person.
After this, we stopped in the village of Peschanka which once had the GULAG camp Buruger in it (the name Buruger is translated from Buryat language as “wrong house”). During the war, the deported Poles and Lithuanians were living here, fishing and sending the fish to the battle front. Sasha told us that the prisoners could eat as much fish as they wanted while fishing in the sea, yet, eating the same fish when returning to the shore was considered to be a crime. The amnesty was announced in 1953, and Buruger was relocated to Khuzhir. One of the oldest residents of the village aunt Katya is more than 90 years old and must remember those times; however, she does not leave her house any more.
Our next stop was at the cape of Sagan-Khushun. Because of the unusual form of the cape, the legend formed around it in many versions. As Sasha told it to us, Baikal had three sons and a beautiful daughter Angara (all are actually the rivers connected to Baikal), especially beloved by her father. Once Angara met Enisei (another river), fell in love with him and escaped from her home. Baikal was outraged and sent the sons to find her. The brothers eventually found her, but she persuaded them not to tell where she was to their father. Baikal learned about their conspiracy and turned all the children into four rocks. According to another version, the unruly daughter and sons were punished after a similar story by their shaman father.
Cape of Khoboi.
One of the well-known sights of Olkhon is the cape of Khoboi. It is translated as “fang” from Buryat and it probably received this name due to its form. There is another legend about it too: a Buryat woman wanted the palace for herself, as beautiful, as her husband had; as a response, gods turned her into the rock, saying “While there is still anger and envy in the world, you will remain the stone”.
When the weather is good seals come to Khoboi. We were not lucky to see them, but enjoyed the views.
While we were walking around Khoboi, Sasha cooked the perfect soup from Baikal fish omul for us.
After the lunch, we went to the Love Mountain. Another legend says that the mountain heals infertility, and Sasha claimed so too, telling about his own tourists who had been trying to have children were lucky only after visiting the mountain. The mountain consists of two peaks, and depending on whether you want a boy or a girl you should leave a coin at the left or at the right peak.
Our final stop was at the village of Uzur which has a weather station in it.
On the way back we met a ground squirrel!
In the evening, we sat at fire with Sasha and his wife Nadia drinking beer and talking about the life on the island. It turned out that Olkhon is a place extremely important for shamanism, not just for the tourists, but practiced by the locals, many of whom believe into their magic powers. We learned a lot from Sasha and Nadia, and they were very nice people too. After riding the bicycles the next day on the island, we departed further, to Arshan.
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